Exposure to carcinogens and mutagens at work

03-06-2016

Despite wide-ranging European legislation, not all substances that can increase the risk of occupational cancers are necessarily covered by existing pieces of legislation. Various studies point to a continuous increase in cancers attributable to working conditions and to a need to improve the protection of workers. Although Directive 2007/34 is the main legislative act setting the standards for the protection of workers against work-related cancers, several studies and stakeholders have called for the scope of the directive to be broadened by adding chemical substances that were not originally covered by the directive, thus decreasing workers' exposure to them. Similarly, Parliament has on numerous occasions asked the Commission to amend the existing legislation on the prevention of work-related cancers and to increase workers' protection against occupational diseases, including cancer. Although the May 2016 Commission proposal intends to increase the protection of workers by broadening of the scope of Directive 2007/34 by setting exposure limit values for 13 additional chemical substances, there are still various substances that are not included on the list and that can potentially have an adverse impact on the health of workers. The European Commission has promised to conduct a further impact assessment for the additional 12 chemical substances by the end of 2016. These subsequent actions may lead to future legislative proposals updating the existing legislation.

Despite wide-ranging European legislation, not all substances that can increase the risk of occupational cancers are necessarily covered by existing pieces of legislation. Various studies point to a continuous increase in cancers attributable to working conditions and to a need to improve the protection of workers. Although Directive 2007/34 is the main legislative act setting the standards for the protection of workers against work-related cancers, several studies and stakeholders have called for the scope of the directive to be broadened by adding chemical substances that were not originally covered by the directive, thus decreasing workers' exposure to them. Similarly, Parliament has on numerous occasions asked the Commission to amend the existing legislation on the prevention of work-related cancers and to increase workers' protection against occupational diseases, including cancer. Although the May 2016 Commission proposal intends to increase the protection of workers by broadening of the scope of Directive 2007/34 by setting exposure limit values for 13 additional chemical substances, there are still various substances that are not included on the list and that can potentially have an adverse impact on the health of workers. The European Commission has promised to conduct a further impact assessment for the additional 12 chemical substances by the end of 2016. These subsequent actions may lead to future legislative proposals updating the existing legislation.